We put Jen Aniston and Gwyneth’s spirituality gurus to the test – Marie Claire

Its a sweltering afternoon in Hollywood and Im navigating a grittier part of town in search of my soul. In truth, anyone searching for their soul in Hollywood should probably be directed to the nearest mental health facility, but Im on the trail of Harry the Healer, shaman to the stars.

As I pull up to the address Harry texted me, it appears to not exist, or is somehow hidden on the street of mostly run-down cottages. This is where celebs come for healing? Id expected a ritzy mansion given Harrys supposed clientele (his devotees range from screen vet Anthony Hopkins to Aussie Hollywood brat packers Todd Lasance, Liam McIntyre and Luke Mitchell). My stomach tightens. What the hell am I doing, going to a strange mans house on my own? I text my husband the address, just in case.

When I finally find the front door, Im greeted by a slim but muscular older man whose golden skin literally glows back at me as he leans in for a warm hug. Harry the Healer (real name Harry Paul) looks exceedingly healthy and happy.

He leads me to a dark treatment room where a massage bed glimmers under slowly flashing disco lights. Spa music plays and the air conditioning hums (thank God). I must be in the right place after all. Plus, Harry told me on the phone that he once got drunk with Chris Hemsworth; call me shallow but that counts for something.

While I wouldnt have assumed getting wasted would lead to spiritual enlightenment, this is Hollywood. Celebrities have long espoused their devotion to some form of spirituality, be it Madonna, Britney Spears and Demi Moore following Kabbalah or Tom Cruises obsession with Scientology. But while those are huge organisations with textbook religious studies, the current spiritual trend is getting more personal, and making superstars out of individual healers who are tapping into the worlds current obsession with all things woo woo and wellness.

Jennifer Anistons recent revelation that shes been partaking in goddess circles for the past three decades where she and her girlfriends sit in a circle and pass around a talking stick to help navigate major life events sparked a slew of internet headlines. And when Gwyneth Paltrow isnt spruiking vaginal steaming or Psychic Vampire Repellent, shes extolling the powers of her personal spirit guide and bro, shaman Durek who calls her his soul sis.

But why exactly am I here? Like most mums of young children, Im consumed by the needs of my two daughters to the point that Ive found myself asking, Who am I, again? Or rather, Who was I? Im longing to rediscover myself and, over the next two weeks, I plan to make like Gwyn and Jen and do some serious soul-searching.

In preparation for today, I watched a video of a shaman performing healing on a woman. She sits closed-eyed as he converses with spirits through her body, speaking rapidly in an African language, which then propels her into what looks like a nightmare of an orgasm. It looks horrific but Im oddly intrigued.

The main reason Im here, though, is to strengthen my connection to my mother, who passed away 26 years ago,and who introduced me to spirituality. I have many happy memories of perusing the aisles of Londons annual Mind, Body and Spirit Festival with her in my early teens, watching reiki masters and crystal healers at work.

And when Mum got cancer, after radiotherapy didnt help, she had electromagnetism therapy, which uses crystals to help balance energy frequencies in the body. Even her sceptical GP attributed it to her living for four years after her diagnosis and called it a miracle.

What would you say life is asking of you at the moment? Harry interrupts my thoughts. Youre not going to make me cry, are you? I blurt out. In the serene setting I suddenly feel emotionally vulnerable, which in real life I thankfully dont have time to. Probably, he smiles gently. I tell him of my yearning to connect with Mum.

Writer, Madeline Collins with her mum.

Were either connected or were distracted, Harry croons smoothly. The mind is connected to the breath so you need to be aware of your breathing. I rarely am. Shallow breathing, shallow life. If you start getting distracted, breathe and connect internally.

Were human beings, not human doings, he goes on. I love that. So when you authentically let go, youll get more than you dreamed of. He tells me of superstar clients who have the adulation of the world but still want to kill themselves. Remember, your opinion is the only one that matters. Try telling my kids that.

Harry reads that Im addicted to heavy-dense energy due to my habit of expecting things to go wrong so that I cant be disappointed, and that Im here because my soul and spirit is calling for me to elevate, let go and be free. Hes a wise man whos suddenly brandishing a huge vibrating machine. It looks like its straight out of the 80s, just like the disco lights.

Lets find where you hold tension in your body, Harry says, as he slowly moves the machine up and down my legs, over my stomach, across my heart and back again. Then, after asking permission to touch me, he begins to knead my jaw, which really hurts.

Hang in there, he says. Can you see your mum? Shes here. But hes mistaken. Behind closed eyes, I suddenly see the beautiful face and hear the voice of my friend and former flatmate, who died in 2018 of a swift and aggressive form of cancer.

I was so devastated when I learnt of her passing via her husbands Facebook page that I couldnt leave my house for a week.

Tears roll down my cheeks as she answers a question Ive wrestled with since her death. I hadnt expected this and feel huge relief that Ive found some way to connect with my friend, who I never got to say goodbye to.

I leave Harrys hidden house with a sense of inner calm (and a strict recommendation to switch to pH-balanced alkaline water).

Im staring at Andrea Bendewalds chiselled jawline, trying to work out where I know it from ... its Suddenly Susan, the critically panned but oh-so juicy 90s sitcom. Recently, she had a bit part in Apple TVs Morning Wars, but today, shes guiding me in a full-moon circle.

Andrea is something of a circling savant she regularly leads circles for Jennifer Aniston, including at her 50th birthday getaway in Mexico. The actresses have been friends for more than 30 years; they both attended Manhattans High School of Performing Arts before moving to LA.

Jennifer Aniston with Andrea Bendewald.

Needless to say, my expectations are high as I rock up to DEN Meditation in Studio City, just over the hill from Hollywood. I enter the large, dimly lit room and see 12 other women setting up their place. Thankfully I fit in well in my no-label activewear. There are women of all shapes and sizes, none displaying the sports-bra-bursting boob jobs you often see in Hollywood wellness classes.

Andrea begins slowly beating a drum to connect us to our own heartbeat. Imagine theres a lotus flower at the top of your crown chakra, it opens up and a beautiful white light extends into the sky and the full moon were sitting under, she guides.

I try my best but my mind keeps wandering to where Id rather be: the beach. Luckily, attention soon turns to the talking stick, the centrepiece of circling, which Andrea describes as an interactive mindfulness practice and talking meditation. She encourages us to channel the fullmoons energy in positive ways, which can otherwiselead to anger and sadness.

Guidelines include no commenting on what someone else says, and whatevers shared in the circle stays there. If we hear something that resonates with us, were encouraged to murmur a-ho, a spiritually polite version of ken oath.

Each person holds the stick in turn and speaks their truth: overwhelmed mums; women feeling stuck from moving forward or going through dark times; those who find meditating lonely and came seeking a community from the circle. Its all relatable stuff and were a-hoing galore.

Im the only one who has an ugly cry, after speaking about Mum.

I feel a kinship with all the strangers in the room, yet dont feel the need to swap numbers when the circle ends. I leave vowing to return, despite the four-hour round trip. Goddess or full-moon circles may sometimes be dismissed as zany or frivolous (a common pattern when it comes to groups of females throughout history), but theres something undeniably powerful about women banding together and sharing their struggles to lift one another up.

Im still on a spiritual high three days later when I speak to shaman Durek on the phone. We couldnt meet in person due to scheduling conflicts, but Im determined to absorb his wisdom (he also counts Nina Dobrev, Selma Blair and Gerard Butler as fans).

I tell Durek about my mum and he speaks at breakneck speed, imparting all kinds of fascinating and life-affirming information I cant possibly keep up with. No wonder he has Hollywood enthralled.

Suddenly he tells me to tap my left hand three times. I eagerly oblige. Was he going to give me the connection to Mum I was craving? Gwyneth had lost her beloved father and she trusted him After a few more instructions, I feel a floating feeling throughout my body and my feet start tingling. But then Durek tells me a hawk has just landed outside his window and is staring at him, and that hawks signify a breakthrough to the other side.

Oooh, you just lost me, says my inner sceptic.

Not that I dont believe him. In grief, religion or any kind of healing, my motto is whatever works. And having taken time to focus, I feel more connected to myself than I have in years, and to Mum, too. Above all, Ive realised that pausing to breathe and be in the moment is perhaps the most powerful tonic for this often-crazy world. So while summoning ancient spirits isnt my thing, Im already counting down the days until the next full moon.

This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of marie claire.

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We put Jen Aniston and Gwyneth's spirituality gurus to the test - Marie Claire

Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Spring 2020 – Publishers Weekly

This season, theologians and historians continue to rethink the lives and legacies of Biblical figures, including Moses and the women of the Bible. And many authors recommend an inward turn, closer listening, and a more open spirituality in response to worries about partisanship.

Chasing Vines: Finding Your Way to an Immensely Fruitful Life

Beth Moore. Tyndale Momentum, Feb. 4

Bible teacher Moore uses the cultivation of grapevines as a metaphor for living a fruitful and meaningful life.

Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You

Jen Hatmaker. Thomas Nelson, Apr. 21

Bestselling author and speaker Hatmaker helps Christians go beyond people pleasing with five self-reflective categorieswho I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe, and how I connectto help readers think about their identities, convictions, and communities.

For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World

Emily M.D. Scott. Convergent, May 12

Scott, founder of St. Lydias Dinner Church in Brooklyn, explores the success of her congregation, which is based on providing meals to congregants and a focus on social activism.

Grace from the Rubble: Two Fathers Road to Reconciliation After the Oklahoma City Bombing

Jeanne Bishop. Zondervan, Apr. 14

Bishop, a public defender, tells the powerful tale of how the father of a young woman killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the father of her killer found an unlikely friendship and forgiveness.

Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife

Bart D. Ehrman. Simon & Schuster, Mar. 31

Bestselling historian Ehrman considers the core theological questions of where the ideas of heaven and hell came from and why they endure. He analyzes the early history of conceptions of the afterlife, including The Epic of Gilgamesh and the teachings of Jesus and his early followers.

How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life

Craig and Devon Hase. Shambhala, Apr. 21

Married Buddhists Craid and Devon Hase, cofounders of SATI Mindfulness, provide candid, Buddhism-inspired advice for staying grounded in a chaotic world.

Moses: A Human Life

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Yale Univ., Mar. 17

Biblical scholar Zornberg teases out Mosess inner life and character by drawing on a broad, eclectic array of sources, including works by George Eliot, Werner Herzog, and W.G. Sebald.

Theological Territories: A David Bentley Hart Digest

David Bentley Hart. Univ. of Notre Dame, Apr. 5

Theologian Hart reflects on the state of theology at the borders of other fields of discourseincluding metaphysics, philosophy of mind, science, the arts, ethics, and biblical hermeneuticsin this manifesto on the manner in which theology should engage other fields of scholarship.

The Way of Gratitude: A New Spirituality for Today

Galen Guengerich. Random House, May 26

Unitarian minister Guengerich argues that transcendence is not limited to an experience of God but can be reached through the ability of gratitude to take someone to a greater awareness.

You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover Your Power, Potential, and Possibility

Panache Desai. HarperOne, Feb. 25

Desai, featured guest on Oprahs SuperSoul Sunday podcast, helps readers overcome anxiety and become one with the life source through grappling with ones personal narrative.

See the season's complete listing here.

A version of this article appeared in the 01/27/2020 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: 2020 Spring Religion and Spirituality Books Top 10

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Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Spring 2020 - Publishers Weekly

Spiritual book proposes that we should nurture our souls as we would a garden — with love and tenderness – Benzinga

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Jan. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ --In return to a favor she asked from God which he granted Ruhe Bayors writes about her experiences with the ever loving God in "Soul Gardening" (published by Balboa Press).

In this book, Bayors shares her spiritual journey as she walks through life with great faith in God. She reflects back on her childhood and recalls how she learned about faith and how she looks at it now. She also highlights why searching for meaning and purpose can be fulfilling.

Bayors likens a person's spirituality to gardening. Her book encourages readers to tend to their souls as they would a garden: with love and tenderness. "The seeds of our truth are already there in our souls. We must choose to tend to these treasure-filled kernels with loving kindness toward others and ourselves in order for those seeds to germinate," she says.

A line in the book reads, "Are you wondering why you would plant a Soul Garden? Because we reap what we sow."

As it tackles personal spirituality, "Soul Garden" aims to motivate readers to find their way back to their authentic selves; inspire them to appreciate everything that life holds; and embrace their loving God.

For more information on the book, feel free to visit https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/804331-soul-gardening.

"Soul Gardening" By Ruhe Bayors Hardcover | 5.5x8.5 in | 378 pages | ISBN 9781982238926 Softcover | 5.5x8.5 in | 378 pages | ISBN 9781982238902 E-Book | 378 pages | ISBN 9781982238919 Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, Inc. a leading provider in publishing products that specialize in self-help and the mind, body, and spirit genres. Through an alliance with the worldwide self-publishing leader Author Solutions, LLC, authors benefit from the leadership of Hay House Publishing and the speed-to-market advantages of the self-publishing model. For more information, visit balboapress.com. To start publishing your book with Balboa Press, call 877-407-4847 today.

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Spiritual book proposes that we should nurture our souls as we would a garden -- with love and tenderness - Benzinga

On matters biblical, spiritual belief, and marital in the land of matoke – Daily Nation

By AUSTIN BUKENYAMore by this Author

Wit, whither wilt? That is vintage Shakespeare, meaning, Where to now, clever one? This is the question hovering in my mind, with respect to our faiths, spirituality and morals. In the face of the bizarre stories coming out of our places of worship, I cannot help wondering where we are heading in matters of our beliefs and behaviour befitting people of God.

I tried to steel myself against the femicidal/suicidal horror of a pastor butchering his wife and then himself in front of their congregation, in Mombasa, treating it as a rare moment of madness. But then, the outrageous stories of believers wayward pranks, from both conventional institutions and the new spirit churches, kept pouring in. Here is a sample of episodes from the Land of Matoke, where I have been spending my early weeks of the year.

A prominent leader at a mosque in the Eastern Central Region, near the Nile, is facing charges in court for beating (publicly celebrating) a wedding with a fellow man. Same-sex marriages are illegal out there. But the unfortunate suspect claims that he was deceived into believing that his bride was a woman. Who is the victim, who is the offender?

Meanwhile, another court has dissolved the relationship between my favourite gospel singer and her second husband, a member of parliament, who has denied paternity of her four-month old baby. The singer is also an MP, but her biggest following is among lovers of gospel music, including me, who appreciate her songs as sources of genuine Christian inspiration.

She was thus a role model of spirituality for many of us. We were sad but sympathetic when, some years back, she quietly separated from her first husband, a pastor in one of the spirit churches, especially as we believed that our sister faced genuine domestic problems.

We were, however, considerably dismayed when, in mid-2018, our Honourable Songbird staged a weird introduction and wedding ceremony with her fellow parliamentarian, the man who has just repudiated and divorced her. It was public knowledge that this Honourable gentleman was in a steady relationship with another woman, with whom he had fathered twins, and to whom he has now returned, after messing up our singer.

Judge not, lest ye be judged, says the scripture. But, surely, such encounters risk trying and testing our faith to the extremes of endurance.

Speaking of denial of paternity, an utterly stupefying drama ensued between two clergymen of one of the most respected conventional churches who accused each other of having fathered a child with a musician at one of their presbyteries. The younger preacher, whom the mother named as the father of the child, flatly rejected responsibility, claiming that one of his superiors was the father, and he had only foisted the musician on him after realising that she was pregnant.

The situation was only saved, in a way, by the minister responsible for womens and childrens affairs at the Ministry of Gender, a no nonsense lady, who summoned all the parties in the dispute, stating that she was going to demand DNA tests, and she would take appropriate and stern action based on the outcome. It was then that the young preacher agreed, without a need for the DNA, to be paying maintenance for the musicians child.

The following weekend, the young preacher was formally introduced by his fiance, a different woman, to her parents, also prominent members of the clergy. They will soon be joined in Holy Matrimony, and if anyone has anything to say, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.

Now, a senior pastor and televangelist in the spirit churches community, has emphatically pronounced himself on the subject of marriage. It appears that, according to him, marriage is not biblical and the so-called marriage vows may be satanic. Another minister, the one for Ethics and Integrity and a churchman himself, has summoned the pastor to clarify his utterances, but the pastor has so far ignored the summons.

To put this development in context, this same pastor was once reported to have ordered the burning of Bibles that contained English words that he did not like. He is also said to have urged his followers to throw away their wedding rings. Last year, advocates of womens rights demonstrated against the pastor on the streets of the capital after he exposed a number of bedroom secrets, including an issue of blood, between him and his wife of over thirty years.

It is difficult to tell whether the pastors new teaching on marriage is related to a much-publicised liaison between him and one of the female workers at his media empire, and his decision to part ways with his wife. Nor do I dare decide for you whether a cover-to-cover reading of the Bible yields no defence or justification of marriage.

There are, however, a few important questions that we need to ask in the face of all this. What exactly do we believe? What is our faith? What is the truth about our relationship with God and where can we find it? What is the relationship between what we believe (or say we believe) and the way we behave? To whom should we listen and whom should we follow?

I do not rush into commenting on matters of religion, spirit or faith for one simple reason. I believe that only properly and fully trained, anointed and appointed people should handle these matters. The increasing trend of all sorts of people claiming to be spirit-inspired and declaring themselves to be pastors, prophets, apostles, bishops, or even divinities, is problematic and disturbing.

The liberalisation or opening up of the faith space has turned it into a phenomenal growth industry. It is, literally, a multibillion-dollar international business. This, inevitably, attracts all sorts of characters, including fraudsters, opportunists and predators, wolves in sheepskins, ready and willing to prey on us unsuspecting flocks. How do we survive? Consult your pastors, after closely observing their credentials.

Incidentally, I still enjoy the songs of my gospel artist.

Prof Bukenya is a leading East African scholar of English and literature; [emailprotected]

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On matters biblical, spiritual belief, and marital in the land of matoke - Daily Nation

Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: February 2020 – Publishers Weekly


Feb. 4

Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel (Zondervan, $22.99, ISBN 978-0-3103-4312-7) identifies three specific prayers aimed at inspiring greater faith and tackling fears.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Believe in Miracles: 101 Stories of Hope, Answered Prayers and Divine Intervention by Amy Newmark (Chicken Soup for the Soul, $14.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-61159-997-8) features accounts from ordinary people who claim to have had extraordinary experiences.

Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color by Khristi Lauren Adams (Fortress, $18.99 paper, ISBN 978-1-5064-5568-6) collects stories of and encounters with young women of color on struggle and resilience.

Feb. 11

The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up in the Land of Attachments by Eve Myonen Marko and Wendy Egyoku Nakao (Monkfish, $18.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-948626-08-8) features a collection of koans created by 21st century Zen Buddhists related to relationships, raising children, money, loss, and more.

Suffer Strong by Jay and Katherine Wolf (Zondervan, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-3103-4457-5). A follow-up to 2016s Hope Heals which depicted Katherines near-fatal brainstem stroke at age 26, this new memoir explores Katherine and Jays evolving strategies for coping with struggle and suffering.

Feb. 17

Citizen: Faithful Discipleship in a Partisan World by C. Andrew Doyle (Church, $16.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-6406-5201-9). Episcopal bishop Doyle examines what it means to live in a community and explores the larger narrative of faith.

Feb. 18

The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith by Irene Kraegel (Fortress, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-5064-5861-8) looks at mindfulness through the lens of faith and introduces practices aimed at helping readers live more joyfully and wholeheartedly.

Loving Well in a Broken World: Discover the Hidden Power of Empathy by Lauren Casper (Thomas Nelson, $17.99 paper, ISBN 978-0-7180-8555-1. Blogger Casper examines what she calls the lost art of empathy in a guide for Christians on how to love neighbors as themselves.

Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader by Derek Penslar (Yale Univ, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-18040-4). Penslar, a historian of Zionism, draws on personal, literary, and political writings to trace Herzls path as the leader of the Zionist movement.

Feb. 25

On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle (Zondervan, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-3103-4944-0). Blogger (Big Mama) shares lessons learned about comparison, unexpected change, and finding encouragement in a new memoir.


Feb. 18

More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson (Bethany, $15.99 paper, 978-0-7642-3538-2) follows three women drawn together by a life-altering car accident.

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Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: February 2020 - Publishers Weekly

6 Bishops on Their Favorite Saints, Spirituality – National Catholic Register

TOP (L to R): Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu; Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs; Bishop Peter Christensen of Boise. BOTTOM: Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette; Bishop Donald Hying of Madison; Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland.

Bishops from Hawaii, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin and California share their tips for a richer devotional life.

I asked six diocesan bishops in different parts of the United States about saints theyre devoted to and recommendations for the average layman on developing ones spiritual life. Here are the thoughts they shared:

BishopMichael Barberof Oakland, California

I believe our overall goal should be to make the Church a place where people can experience Jesus Christ. The better we do this through prayer, worship, the sacraments, our homilies and works of mercy, the better people can experience Jesus Christ.

Once we have people coming to church, we can start talking to them about morality. A man can learn to be chaste by leaving the bar scene and marrying the woman he loves. He gives up his old life because he loves a person, his wife. In the same way, a person can leave an immoral lifestyle when he comes to love a person, Jesus Christ. I believe it is the same principle giving up what is harmful to us by falling in love with a person.

BishopPeter Christensenof Boise, encompassing the entire state of Idaho

[Explaining that he spends much of his time on the road visiting parishes, using the time in the car to pray and prepare his homilies.] While some bishops may travel with someone to help with the driving, I go by myself. I prefer it that way. I like the solitude. I dont listen to music. I pray and say the Rosary, or think about things. It gives me a lot of time to myself. Not everyone would like it. One recent trip had me on the road 16 days straight.

BishopJohn Doerflerof Marquette, the upper peninsula of Michigan

My favorite [saints] include St. John of the Cross, who is my patron, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thrse and St. Thomas More.

As a young man, my heroes included Pope St. John Paul II When I was a seminarian, I studied theology at North American College in Rome. I had the privilege of serving Mass for Pope John Paul II. It was the beatification mass of St. Katharine Drexel, and they wanted American seminarians to serve at the Mass. I was one of the lucky ones whose name was pulled out of the hat.

I met Pope John Paul briefly after Mass. I remember my exchange with him. I assured the Holy Father I was praying for him. He said, Well, well pray for each other.

[In regards to spirituality, I recommend] the basics, like weekly Mass and regular confession, go without saying. Id also especially mention three other things: the Rosary,Lectio Divinaor praying with Sacred Scripture, and Eucharistic adoration.

BishopDonald Hyingof Madison, Wisconsin

Ive always been impressed by [St. Thrse of Lisieuxs] unique life, short though it was. She didnt accomplish anything in the eyes of the world, but she did love God in an extraordinary way in the ordinary things of life. She is the saint of simple people; Id classify myself as one of those simple people.

Id tell [the average layman] to start with attending Mass regularly on Sundays and holy days. Go to confession once a month. Pray daily; when you start, it may be for just 10 minutes.

Develop a devotional life. This might mean praying the Rosary, or a devotion to a particular saint, some activity that will feed your heart and spirit. Do some form of service to the poor or sick. Go on an annual retreat.

BishopMichael Sheridanof Colorado Springs

[Pope St. John Paul II is] a real hero to me. Im impressed with St. Thrse, the Little Flower, and Ive been reading herStory of a Soulwhich teaches us how to live a simple but saintly life. I also like St. John Neumann, the former Archbishop of Philadelphia, because of his simplicity, dedication and wisdom.

I was trained early on in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. If one is well led, these can be a beautiful source of spiritual enrichment. As far as contemporary programs, Id recommend the work of Dan Burke of the Avila Foundation, the wonderful Augustine Institute and the Denver Biblical School.

BishopLarry Silvaof Honolulu, encompassing all the islands of Hawaii

I often take pilgrimage groups to a tiny peninsula on the island of Molokai known as Kalaupapa. This is where St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope ministered to people with leprosy (Hansens disease). It can only be accessed by a small (9-passenger) airplane, by footviaa switch-back trail on a 2,000 foot cliff, or by mule on the same trail. A couple of times I intended to go there on a day trip, but the weather turned bad during the day so the small planes were not allowed to fly in. Without being prepared to spend the night, I had to do so, along with members of our group. The people there are always accommodating and help us make do.

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6 Bishops on Their Favorite Saints, Spirituality - National Catholic Register

Spiritual Intervention for Crime Prevention? – The Voice St. Lucia

LAWLESSNESS. It is a plague that has swept the entire planet and our sweet little paradise under the sun is no exception. The news is littered with stories of ever increasing crime and violence and many fear there is little that can be done to curb the injurious trend.

Author of the book Opening the Door, Claude Peters proposes that there is indeed a cure and it lies within every human on the face of this earth if only we as a people would embrace a spiritual connection with a higher power. We have taken God out of the picture, he says, and as such, our thoughts and actions have become unruly. With the help of digital book publisher, Hailcloud Publishing, he shares a message of spiritual awakening and enlightenment. Here is a brief look into the mind of the local author.

Claude: I believe that we as a country and as a people need to judge one another less and instead use that same energy to help and uplift one another. Focus needs to be placed on the youth and future generations. Breaking the cycle of hate and crime starts with giving them the love and attention that has been increasingly lacking as the years go by. We can only fight negativity by infusing this land with positivity.

Claude: We live in a time where what is seen is not real. Standards of beauty, success and more are illusions created by a few and imposed onto the unknowing masses. Therefore, most people wake up every day and put on a mask to deceive rather than pursue the most meaningful things in life, which are happiness and love. I was blessed with a gift to see past the illusions and thus, was compelled to write this book to help others ditch the mask so that they can live life freely and without this encumbering outlook.

Claude: Embracing spirituality is the key to unlocking a higher consciousness. The lawlessness that plagues St Lucia and the world is a sign of the lack of respect that so many have for life. Life is often taken like it means nothing. Being spiritual allows a person to recognize the value of his or her life and soul and that of every other man. Once a person has gained the recognition that life surpasses any monetary value, being lawless goes against that moral.

Claude: Yes, I do. Spiritual enlightenment is not something that happens because of affiliation with any particular religion. What qualifies anyone for enlightenment is the quality of their soul and their actions toward themselves and other people.

Claude: The finger pointing and blame games need to stop. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and so we need to make the most of today. Instead of judging, lets be humble and seek the truth for the betterment of ourselves as individuals and our communities. Make each day count by gracing it with love, joy and peaceful communication.Opening the Door is available in eBook format on Amazon.com. Visit http://www.hailcloudpublishing.online or the companys Facebook page @HailcloudPublishing for more information.

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Spiritual Intervention for Crime Prevention? - The Voice St. Lucia

Getting spiritual: the real essence of yoga – The Age

As Shearer writes, yoga is now an $US18 billion ($26 billion) industry, its rise no better illustrated than in an exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation, held in 2013 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where tables for the opening gala were $50,000 a pop.

It is often said that yoga practices date from 5000 years ago, but as Shearer points out, nobody knows for sure.


There is no mention of what he calls posture yoga in the Vedic teachings, which date from roughly 2500BC to 500BC. But there are 900 mentions in the later Mahabharata, the great Sanskrit epic of ancient India, which includes the Bhagavad Gita, the most important text in what came to be known as Hinduism a handbook for life, as Shearer puts it, which makes clear that the most skilful action of all is that which leads to yoga, or union with the Divine.

The seers of early yoga scriptures were interested in physical postures only insofar as they aided meditation and breathing. The oldest known text devoted solely to yoga now regarded as its de facto bible - is the Yoga Sutra of Maharishi Patanjali, composed sometime before AD350.

Patanjali devotes only three short verses out of 196 to physical postures, making clear that the mastery in asanas or positions lies not in athleticism or flexibility, the ability to bend, twist and work up a sweat, but in the fact that it facilitates an effortless state of mental absorption. In short, the purpose of body work is to refine the mind; yoga is the settled mind.

The highest status in Indian society was afforded to the maharaj, or great king, who, stationed serenely under his tree, was the unattached lord of all he surveyed and more. The Buddha, realising enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree, is the most potent symbol of this.

Yoga was a physical practice only insofar as it served a spiritual objective. None of the great authorities, Shearer writes, saw the practice of yoga as a means to perfect the human frame, but as a way to transcend its irksome limitations altogether. The fierce asceticism and punishing physical contortions of the sadhus and fakirs were steps in the cultivation of siddhis, or powers not as an end in themselves, but as a means of self-transcendence.

Mud-covered men do yoga at Down to Earth Confest in Wangaratta in 1984.Credit:Simon Corden

Shearer, who has written extensively on Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, provides a fascinating chronology of the changing attitudes towards yoga in the West. To the Victorians, Indian holy men were held to be objects either of reproval the emaciated yogi lying on a bed of nails provided the perfect illustration of the perceived laziness and moral turpitude of the native Indian, in stark contrast to the doctrine of Muscular Christianity served up by the social reformer and evangelist Charles Kingsley, whose recipe for moral improvement was a cold morning bath or of a kind of appalled amusement.

Shearer neglects to mention the religious posturist Bava Lachman Dass, who exhibited himself at the Westminster Aquarium in 1897, demonstrating 48 yoga positions, drawn from what The Strand magazine described as the repulsive Indian religion. Queen Victoria, meanwhile, once held a tea party for a group of sadhus recruited from Jaipur jail, so she could sketch them.

A deeper understanding came with Swami Vivekananda, whose appearance at the first World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 galvanised popular interest in Hindu teachings. The Fabian turned theosophist Annie Besant, who saw Vivekananda speak in Chicago Purposeful, virile, strong, he stood out, a man among men, able to hold his own would go on to publish a book on Maharishi Patanjalis yoga in 1907.

The psychologist William James (Henry's brother), who was similarly impressed, remarked that yoga makes of its disciples, good, healthy and happy men. In 1932, Carl Jung presented a seminar on kundalini yoga to the Psychological Society in Zurich which, Shearer writes, was regarded as a milestone in the Western understanding of Eastern thought.

Finlay Wilson revealed a Scottish mystery in Kilted Yoga.Credit:

Further enlightenment came with Aurobindo Ghose, the Indian nationalist turned mystic, whose teachings inspired the founders of the Esalen Institute in California the crucible of the so-called Human Potential movement in the 1960s whose program today boasts any number of bodywork techniques that would have been unknown in ancient India, including shadow yoga and grief yoga, which blends postures, movement, breath and vocalisation in ways that help students process the grief that follows any loss.

Shearer adds to this list with the galaxy of new variations including flow yoga, rocket yoga and kilt yoga, as demonstrated by Scottish teacher Finlay Wilson, whose headstands, Shearer notes, finally answer the question of what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

It is significant that some of the most popular forms of yoga today are the least contemplative. Shearer describes the no pain, no gain variation of Ashtanga yoga, popularised by K Pattabhi Jois and much espoused by celebrities such as Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow, as a sweat-based path for a nation of self-actualising achievers.

Then there is hot yoga invented by the pony-tailed, waxed-chested Bikram Choudhury a technique combining heat and vigorous activity. Its not unheard of for people attempting hot yoga to vomit, break down and pass out, or lose bladder control in a room full of their fellow students.

This, too, attracted the predictable celebrity following, including Shirley MacLaine, Lady Gaga and Paltrow (again), and made Choudhury a multimillionaire, before he fell to earth after a Vanity Fair article accusing him of rape, sexual harassment and false imprisonment, as well as discriminatory behaviour against gay people, women and racial minorities. (He has since denied any wrongdoing.)

The physical postures should be steady and comfortable, Patanjali wrote in the fourth century. They are mastered when all effort is relaxed and the mind is absorbed in the infinite. But nobody said it would be easy.

In 2017, a survey in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies reported that yoga was the cause of more injuries than all other sports combined, with one in 10 practitioners developing musculoskeletal pain from their practice, and a third of those experiencing pain so severe they were out of action for three months. As Shearer puts it: Body-yoga has enjoyed 50 years of astonishing popularity in the West; now the casualties are limping in.

Something for practitioners to meditate on, perhaps. Those adopting the determined sedentary position may find these statistics strangely vindicating.

The Telegraph, London

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Getting spiritual: the real essence of yoga - The Age

The spiritual poet – The News on Sunday

A writer can be anything; a revolutionary, a spiritual guide, a thought leader and even founder of a new religion. However, if such a leader identifies himself as a writer, he will be considered an artist, first and foremost by his nonconformist, nonreligious readers, who will be more interested in his artistic paraphernalia. As its the skills set, the hard-earned art of writing that provides the basis for the successful transmission of a revolutionary idea or a divine thought.

Baba Nanak (1469-1583) is one such personality. His overwhelming sense of appreciation for everything related to the process and art of writing, as depicted in the lines below, gives his readers the liberty to start their literary travels free of any religious dogmas.

For example, he writes, Dhan so kaagad, kalam dhan, dhan bhaanda, dhan mass/Dhan likhaari Nanaka, jin naam likhaya sach

(Blessed is the paper, blessed is the pen, blessed the inkpot and blessed is the ink/Blessed is the writer, O Nanak, who writes the truth).

Moving on to the importance of artistic perfection, he reiterates: Jay ik hoay taa(n) uggvay, ruttee(n) hoo rut hoay/Nanak paahay baahraa, koray rang nah soay

(If the seed is whole, and it is the proper season, then the seed will sprout/O Nanak, without the treatment, the raw fabric cannot be dyed).

The writer Nanak leads us to the art of listening and process of internalising those conversations: Jabb lag dunya rahyyay Nanak, kichh sunneay kichh kahyyay

(As long as we are in this world, O Nanak, we should listen and speak).

However, this process of listening, learning and then speaking (writing) does create occupational hazards and the artist Nanak is fully aware and alert to this danger, so he warns his fellow writers and preachers: Dhirrag tinhaa(n) ka jeevya, jo likh likh vaichay naao

(Cursed are the lives of those who read and write the divines name to sell it).

Baba Nanak doesnt just caution us about the business of writing but he warns writers about the lurking lust of recognition and rewards too. He declares: Kulhaa(n) dainday baavlay, lainday vadday nilaj/ chooha khudd nah maavee tikkal bannhay chhaj

(Those who give out ceremonial hats of recognition are fools and those who receive them have no shame/The mouse cannot enter its hole with a basket tied to its waist).

For Baba Nanak truth is the ultimate manifestation of writing. The courage to speak the truth to power is as divine as his connection with oppressed people that is as permanent and unshakable like this verse: Sach puraNa hovay naahi, seeta kadday nah paatay

(Truth does not grow old and when it is stitched, it remains stitched- never to be torn again).

As a Punjabi poet, my introduction to Baba Nanak, the poet, and the artist was through following two lines twenty-two years ago and until today, whenever I read it, I get goosebumps. This rendering starts with a typical Punjabi folkloric opening which is not so common in Baba Nanaks poetry: Moreen runn jhunn laaya bhainee saawan aaya

(The peacocks are singing so sweetly, O sister, the rainy season of Saawan has come). And then comes this: Aaay nah sakkaa(n) tujh kan piyaaray, bhaij nah sakkaa(n) koay / aa-o subhaagi neendaReay matt saoh daikhaa(n) soay

(I cant come to you my love and I cant send anyone to you/ Come to me, O blessed sleep, so I can see my beloved in my dreams).

370 years later, another Punjabi poet Mian Muhammad Baksh carried the same thought forward in these grievous words keeping the Nanaki poetic tradition alive and well: Sufnay day wich milya maahi tay main gal wich paa layya(n) bahnwaa(n)/Dar di maari akh nah kholaa(n) kittay fir vichaR nah jaavaa(n)

(I met my beloved in a dream and I hugged him tightly/ I am afraid of opening my eyes, fearing that I may lose him yet again).

You may have felt that instead of using the more popular epithet Guru Nanak, I have intentionally opted to use Baba Nanak. As to me Baba signifies a more humane, intimate, closer, humanly equal, and familial ecosystem. Baba provides a permanent state of sheltering warmth thats rooted in the Punjabi rural tradition connecting many generations as one. Baba Nanak himself uses words like banda, Adami, manas for himself rather than any other big titles. He is proud of associating himself with lowest of the low: Neechaa(n) anddar neech jaat neechi ho(n) att neech

(Nanak seeks the company of the lowest of the low, the very lowest of the low).

According to Prof Gurinder Singh Mann, Baba Nanak created over nine hundred compositions amounting to 93,302 words and his successors labelled his language as the auspicious language (Subhakha, GG 611:19). Mann further adds referencing the JS Grewal and Irfan Habib edited volume Sikh History from Persian Sources that the author of the Dabistan-i-Mazahib labels it as the language of Jatts.

Coming from the Jaangli, Jatki background, I naturally have some reservations accepting that the language of Baba Nanak is those of Jatts. Even when we compare Baba Nanaks poetic language with Baba Farid and Waris Shah (who belonged to the Baar/Jaangli/Jatki areas like Baba Nanak) we feel a substantial difference in phraseology and vocabulary. More research is required to find out why Baba Nanak didnt always use the language and expression of the Baar/Jaangli areas. It may well be due to the influence of Vedic texts, Bhagti writings or due to his long travels that his language doesnt always read like the Punjabi language of the 15th century, as we know it.

Ironically, there are no other known writings of Punjabi available between Baba Farid and Baba Nanak. We have a silent period between these two greats of nearly 300 years as far as documentation of Punjabi poets is concerned, making it more challenging to fully understand Baba Nanaks lingual trajectory.

Ironically, there are no other known writings of Punjabi available between Baba Farid and Baba Nanak. We have a silent period between these two greats of nearly 300 years as far as documentation of Punjabi poets is concerned.

There appears very little influence of rural folk tradition and folk love themes on Baba Nanaks poetry. However, wherever that appears, simplicity and directness of expression makes it feel so contemporary: Here are a few such examples: Bohta Jeevan manggeay moyaa nah loRay koe

(Everyone begs for a long life, no one wishes to die);

Kammar kataara bankRa, bankkay ka aswaar/garrab nah keejay Nanaka matt serr aaway bhaar

(A beautiful dagger hangs by your waist, and you ride such a beautiful horse/But dont be too proud, ONanak, you may fall headfirst to the ground);

Mandda kissay nah aakheay, paRh akhhar eho bujhheay/moorakh naal nah lujhheay

(Dont call anyone bad, read these words and understand/ Dont argue with fools).

Use of word lujhheay here is as natively Jaangli/Jatki as it can ever be. Roopeen Bhukh nah utray, jaa(n) daikhaa(n) taa(n) bhukh/Jeetay rass sareer kay, taytay laggey dukh

(Beauty doesnt satisfy hunger, when someone sees beauty, hunger increases/As many are the pleasures of the body, so many are the pains which afflict it).

Baba Nanaks forceful rejection of unjust authority and his love for the downtrodden is as powerful as his divine humility. Here are few such renderings: Haqq paraya Nanaka uss sooar uss gaa

(To take what rightfully belongs to others is like a Muslim eating pork or a Hindu eating beef);

Jo ratt peevay mansaa(n) tin kion normal cheet

(Those who suck the blood of fellow beings, how can their consciousness be pure); Raajay sheenh, muqaddam kuttay, jaa jagain baithay suttay/Chaakar naohdaa paain ghao/ratt pitt kuttyo chatti jao

(The Kings are tigers and their officials are dogs; they go out and awaken the sleeping people to harass them/The public servants inflict wounds with their nails; the dogs lick up the blood thats spilt);

KooR Raja kooR parjaa, kooR sabh sansaar

(False is the king, false are the subjects, false is the whole world).

Baba Nanak is a trailblazer in so many ways, as a poet, he introduced and popularised several Punjabi poetic genres that need a separate space. However, his most powerful work is Babar Baani, the 27 stanzas composed in response to Babars invasion and abuses which turned Punjab into maaspuri (city of the dead) starting from attacks on Punjab in 1510 to 1526 when he conquered Delhi. This is when Baba Nanak lamented about Lahore as well when Babars forces nearly destroyed it: Lahore sehr, jehr qahr, savva pehr

(The city of Lahore suffered terrible destruction for hours).

Below are few of the verses that summarise how Baba Nanak reacted to the barbaric invasion of Babar on our land:

Paap ki janjj lay Kabuloo(n) dhaaya, joree(n) manggay daan vay Laalo/ sarram dharram doay chhipp khaloay kooR phirray pardhaan vay Laalo/ khoon kay sohlay gaavay Nanak ratt ka kanggoo paay vay Laalo

(O Laalo, bringing the marriage party of sin, Babar has invaded from Kabul, demanding our land as his wedding gift/O Laalo, modesty and righteousness both have vanished and falsehood struts around like a leader/The wedding songs of murder are sung, O Nanak, and blood is sprinkled instead of saffron, O Laalo); Babar Vaani phirr gai koer nah roti khaaay

(Since Babars rule has been proclaimed, even the princes have no food to eat).

Art of poetry and humanitarian message of Baba Nanak is not just restricted to the land of his birth, but it spread across frontiers. Its believed that Sain Sachal Sarmast (1739-1827) named one of his disciples Yusuf as Nanak Yousuf because his poetry reminded him of Baba Nanak.

Punjabis and the people of the sub-continent need more of Baba Nanak, Baba Farid and Sachal Sarmast to reclaim their long-lost sense of peace and cohesion. Compassion, accommodation and acceptance of the undiluted truth can set this caged region free and there is no better source than Baba Nanak and Sufi Bhagti poets of our land. In Baba Nanaks own words: Nah maila nah dhundhlaa nah bhagwa nah kach /Nanak laal-o-laal hay sachay ratta sach

(Neither dirty, nor dull, nor saffron, nor any colour that fades/O Nanak, crimson, deep crimson is the colour of those who are imbued in truth).

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The spiritual poet - The News on Sunday

Terry Crews says intermittent fasting is his fitness secret but he’s actually doing it for spiritual reasons – Yahoo Entertainment

Actor Terry Crews is fit, from any angle and in every photo.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star made a joke to that effect Thursday when he shared a meme about how his profile pics would vary on different social media sites. Whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Tinder, Crews had incredible muscles.

Crews has attributed his fitness, in part, to intermittent fasting. Hes followed the diet for the past eight years before it became trendy in the mainstream.

I eat from 2 to 10 and it changes. If Im in a different time zone, I wait until its two oclock wherever I am, Crews revealed this week at BUILD Series in New York City. But, I have to say this, the intermittent fasting thing although it has beautiful effects for my body, my health, my energy; its wonderful its more spiritual.

Crews explained that intermittent fasting requires him to practice discipline.

When you look at what fasting is, its literally, everything that is within your grasp is never meant to be in your hand, you know what I mean? he said. You have to teach yourself to say no. We have to teach ourselves to say no on the internet. OK, thats enough for today. Thats enough TV. Thats enough food. Thats enough [of] this. Because right now, in this time, you know, we have more than ever, and were more miserable than ever. Because you have to learn to restrict yourself, and this takes discipline. And the discipline that helps me with intermittent fasting helps me with all the other areas of my life.

Another area where fasting has helped is his marriage of more than 30 years, to Rebecca King. While they were in therapy, the two agreed to forgo sex for 90 days.

What was wild was that there was a time where I thought I couldnt do it, said Crews, whos been open about having overcome an addiction to pornography.

But let me tell you [the sex fast] was the most beneficial thing I ever did in my life, because what happened was my wife and I became kids again. Because when youre a kid, when I was 12, I didnt know anything about sex. I just liked the girl. When we went out, it was because I really wanted to know what she was talking about, Crews said. Before, it was like, OK, when we getting to the sex? But then, when you know its not coming, now its like, Tell me what your deepest fears are.

Of course, The Expendables actor spends plenty of time in the gym, too. He advised others to think of it like a spa, therapy time for the body.

When I do my two hours, in the morning, I value that more than anything, Crews said. Its my meditation. Its my peace. I learn. I listen to audio books. I listen to my music. I actually save songs for my workout, so I can really enjoy them Treat it like it's a joy.

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Terry Crews says intermittent fasting is his fitness secret but he's actually doing it for spiritual reasons - Yahoo Entertainment

Is the Spiritual Realm more Real than the Natural? Brad Jersak | Brad Jersak – Patheos


How would you respond to the statement, The spiritual realm is more real than the natural realm?

Ive thought about this type of statement a lot, having heard the statement in a variety of forms through the years. Similarly, the Catholic priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, once said, We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Both these statements affirm something important but invariably over-steer into a sort of neo-Gnostic dualism, which Ill explain below.

First, nearly every conceivable theological mistake seems to begin with an important truth understood wrongly. So lets begin with the truth. What is true about these statements? Both the one you cite and also Chardins?

The worldview of Christ, his prophetic predecessors and his apostolic successors was not materialistic. They acknowledged the reality of a spiritual realm above, behind or within the material world. They believed in God, though he was invisible; in spiritual beings, whether angelic or demonic; and in the spirits of departed people, whether in the heavens or beneath the earth. While Christianity has developed beyond literalist readings of that worldview, the ancients were right to see that there is more to reality than meets the eye. So even post-modern Christians are not strict materialists.

This is especially true of people. We are more than biological factories. We are more than the sum of our primate parts. We believe that to be human includes more than a body. Whatever we call the immaterial aspects of our humanity the soul and/or spirit, the mind and/or heart, conscience and/or consciousness to be human involves natural AND spiritual dimensions that both faith and science have trouble grasping.

The statements also indicate that despite appearances, our assumption that the material world is denser than the spiritual world is somehow not quite right. Im not speaking literally.

Rather, Im thinking especially about biblical texts such as the book of Hebrews where we hear that the temporal earthly temple was merely a shadow of the eternal heavenly temple. The author almost sounds like Plato, and indeed, may have been a Christian convert from the Platonic Judaism of Philo of Alexandria.

Later, in chapter 11, Hebrews speaks about the substance of faith in Gods promises that had not yet materialized. I dont purport to understand the substance of immaterial faith, but clearly, the promises of God were a reality to those who hoped in them even apart from their fulfillment.

And while its important to avoid the hard anti-material dualism of the Gnostics, we also want to acknowledge the dualities in biblical statements such as:

There are so many Scriptures like these that affirm the reality of a spiritual or heavenly realm that is more than temporal and more than material and, therefore, also in some way ultimate relative to the natural plane. So to be charitable, you can see how our charismatic friends and even Chardin try to hold that truth in play in the context of our incredibly materialistic society. This is especially important for Christians to remember when being consumed by consumerism and an obsession with the stuff of the worldly kingdom.

And yet it feels to me that these statements overcompensate and may swerve wildly into the other ditch.

Earlier, I referred to the ancient (or not so ancient) heresy of Gnosticism. While there were an array of complex pseudo-Christian Gnostic streams that became especially influential in the second century, many of them seem to have divorced the spiritual realm from the material realm, or at least wanted to. Ill have to generalize here. They would have seen the heavenly kingdom as entirely separate from and out of sync with the material world.

This is quite different than the New Testament vision where Christ says, The kingdom of heaven has come near or The kingdom of God is in your midst or at hand or within you. Indeed, the kingdom parables of Christ are all about the kingdom of God permeating this world and our real earthly lives like seeds being sown or a wheat field sprouting or yeast leavening a loaf or a tree spreading its branches. In Christ, the kingdom is here, evident in real things we see and hear and touch and do. Its a way of being in this world and its the grace of God happening in a thousand little ways throughout our days here. Said another way, the kingdom of God is about heaven and earth united, beyond separation.

The Gnostics also believed the material realm was intrinsically evil, nothing that a Holy God would directly touch. Before I critique that notion, lets say that its not entirely without justification, even biblically but that theyve drastically misunderstood important words and ideas.

For example, as we look around, we see a certain corruption at work in the world and in people. To them, 1 John 2:15-17 seem to make perfect sense:

As you can see, the plain and literal reading of the text seems obvious: the world and the flesh are evil. No?

No. We need to understand that by world, John is not referring to the world that God created (and it was good) or the world of people that God so loved that he gave his only Son (John 3). The world were to avoid is the world systemhostile to Christ. It is comprised of corrupt societies that traffic in greed, injustice, oppression and moral darkness. According to Paul, we are to be in the world but not of the world. That is, we live in our communities without participating in the practices and systems that destroy communities.

So too with the flesh. Surely the flesh that cannot enter the kingdom of God does not refer to the material flesh of our humanity since God the Word became flesh (John 1:14). In fact, Christ not only became human he became flesh in the sense of entering fully the human condition to restore and redeem it. He dignified the flesh by uniting himself to human nature fully.

So the flesh that Paul derides is not the flesh of our humanity, but rather, our egoism and its demands. To be spiritual is, contra Chardin, NOT over against being human, but against the cravings and darkened desires of the fallen human mind. Indeed, to become spiritual is to have the Spirit give LIFE to our mortal bodies, not to degrade them as evil. We should have kept reading Romans 8:

10But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:10-11).

Finally, you can see how the dualism that divorces spirit and matter and degrades Gods good world and our fleshly bodies as innately evil would lead the Gnostics to a theology of escape. But its not just those heretics of old who dabble in anti-material escapism. A few examples come to mind Ill mention three:

1. Left Behind rapture theology: As a young dispensationalist, we didnt have much hope for this world. We were intent on escape via the rapture, hopefully next week, definitely in our lifetime. And we foresaw nothing for the material world but the degradation of the society and humanity into a global empire led by the Antichrist, culminating in Armageddon and followed later by the consumption of the universe in fire.

The one and only solution: dont get left behind!Or left below!if you prefer the Simsons version:

2. Charismatic supernaturalism:I have no doubt that the apostolic church was charismatic and supernatural in the truest sense. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is alive and well, active in our lives and continuing to move, speak and heal. Im an eye-witness and occasional participant.

But there is a brand of supernaturalISMthat feels very escapist to me. Rather than embracing our fleshly existence as the venue where the kingdom comes on earth as in heaven or the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, it becomes obsessed with all things flitty, ethereal and abstracted from real life. It sings, Let your glory fall on this room and then instead of seeing that glory in the face of their brothers and sisters, or in the poor and the broken, squints its eyes hoping to glimpse angel feathers, glowing orbs and whisps of shekinah smoke.

Worse, it continually tries to evade the messy human condition, inventing a theology of denial that cant accept lament.

3. Our heavenly home: Heaven is my home. Im just passin through.

In his book, Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright reminds us that the biblical vision does not end in a heavenly realm divorced from this world as disembodied spirits. Rather, he says, the gospel foresees the restoration of this world and the resurrection of our bodies. Granted, we will apparently be immortal and spiritual, but nonetheless somehow embodied humans enjoying a tangible reality engaged with the five senses.

I would point out to Wrights disciples that he does not deny the reality of heaven or paradise as such. That is, Hebrews 11-12 is not wrong to speak of the cloud of witnesses of departed saints 12 or the spirits of righteous men worshiping now at Mount Zion. For Paul, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and John the Revelator sees myriads of souls worshiping at the Lambs throne. As Jesus said, we worship the God of the living such that he believed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are somehow alive and Moses and Elijah could appear with him on Tabor.

So, while we still await the final resurrection and our telosas immortal and embodied humanity in the reconstructed universe (this universe, according to Revelation 21), we know death involves a beatific vision in the presence of God. But also, lets not imagine that the goal is to escape from our bodies into a permanent cloudy by-and-by.

So, is the spiritual realm more real than the natural? What does more real even mean if 1. both are real and if 2. God encompasses and indwells both and 3. unites them in himself? While the kingdom of heaven (i.e. God) creates, sustains and reigns over the earthly realm, its not helpful to think of the material realm as unreal or separate or evil. Its been dignified by its very creation, by the incarnation and by Gods intention of its ultimate restoration.

And, are we spiritual beings having a human experience?Our human experience isnota mere episode in the life of a supra-human spirit. Humans ARE both spiritual and embodied by nature and by grace. There is nothing unspiritual about being human and in fact, the most spiritual thing about us IS our humanity. To be spiritual by grace is to become more truly human.

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Is the Spiritual Realm more Real than the Natural? Brad Jersak | Brad Jersak - Patheos

The role of scriptures on the spiritual path – The Navhind Times



Sadhguru:There is something called knowledge, which is an accumulated mass of memory,and there is something called knowing, which is sheer perception of life.Knowledge is just your conclusion about life. If you come to a conclusion aboutlife from accumulated knowledge, it becomes prejudiced knowledge. It will notallow you to experience anything afresh. Nothing new will ever happen to you.Knowledge is useful for your survival process but it never liberates you.

Should you not take care of your survival? You definitelyshould, but when a little worm with a minuscule fraction of the brain you have,can survive pretty well on this planet, should you spend your whole life onsurvival when you have such a big brain? In the yogic systems, we look at themind as having sixteen parts. They say just one of these sixteen parts isenough to be super-successful in the material world. The remaining fifteenshould be focused on your inner wellbeing because that is a much vaster spacethan the material world. Even scientists today say that just four percent ofthe universe is creation, and the rest is dark matter and dark energy. So, fourpercent of your mind is enough but the ancient yogis were a little moregenerous. They gave you a little more than six percent to very successfullyconduct your material life!

So, with all due respect to the scriptures, it isaccumulated knowledge. If it was a book of engineering or literature orhistory, I would say read it. If it is a book of knowledge of the self, if youare here and alive, it is better to read this book that is yourself than toread some other book. You are a book written by the creator himself. It is bestto read this if you want to know about this life. Whatever other books youtake, even if they happened to be Gods own words, if it is written in somelanguage obviously it was written by human beings. Human minds are given toenormous distortion. If you see something today with your own eyes and tellyour neighbor, he goes and tells someone else. If it goes through twenty-fivepeople in twenty-four hours and comes back to you, can you recognize thatstory? It is very obvious that human beings are capable of enormous distortion.When something has come down for thousands of years, you can imagine how muchcould have happened to it on the way.

If you want to know yourself, dont read a book writtenby someone else. If you read about yourself in a book, you are not real, youare just a story. You need to look within. You must have the necessaryinstruments to turn around and look at this. I am not trying to trasheverything that has ever been written but if you learn to go into the deeperdimensions of who you are, you will see, all scriptures will be stale.

When Krishna was giving the Gita to Arjuna, every timeKrishna said something, Arjuna who received the best education in those daysbecause he was a prince, would say, But no. This scripture says somethingelse. He was referring to all the books he had read. Krishna laughed and said,When the light has risen within a human being, all your scriptures are like atank full of water when the flood has come.

If you are living in a desert, a tank full of watermay feel like an ocean to you. When the flood has come, what meaning does atank full of water have? When the creator is throbbing within you every moment,you must look within.

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The role of scriptures on the spiritual path - The Navhind Times

Undiluted Catholicism: what the Amazon really needs – Catholic Herald Online

As Pope Francis prepares his exhortation, an anthropologist says Western agendas won't help the Amazon

What can the Church do to better serve the indigenous peoples of Amazonia? And what can she learn from Amazonian spirituality? These questions have been much discussed in light of last years Amazon synod, but often with little understanding of the spiritual concerns of the people in question.

Enthusiasts for the synod see it as a turning point for the whole Church in matters of ecology, liturgy and ordained ministry a great spiritual decolonisation. Its detractors see it as an existential threat to the Churchs doctrines and her preaching of the Gospel. One bishop recently expressed the desperate hope that the Pope would destroy the synods final document. But as someone who has spent many years studying Amazonian religions, I have been struck by the almost complete absence from the debate of any informed discussion of the spiritual practices and preoccupations of the people for whose benefit the synod was ostensibly convened.

Several years ago I spent seven months living in an indigenous community in Ecuador studying peoples spiritual experiences and religious beliefs. I was writing a doctoral thesis in social anthropology. Although these people lived outside Amazonia, their culture and beliefs strongly resemble those of the Amazon region and of lowland South America more broadly.

Those months in an indigenous village, and the scholarly study preceding and following on from them, were a formative period in my own spiritual journey. The spiritual lessons I learned there, so far from my own background in middle-class England, were part of what prompted me, two years later, to convert to Catholicism.

What I found in Ecuador and what the scholarly literature confirms across lowland South America is that the overriding concern of peoples engagement in religious activity is a quest for spiritual protection. This has often meant that the Church, especially her powers of exorcism, has received an enthusiastic reception. The characteristics of the Churchs traditional ceremonies, particularly in the Old Rite the ritualism, the mystery, the use of spiritually powerful substances and objects, even the use of a special ritual language are reminiscent of many features of the traditional indigenous exorcisms performed by shamans. One of the most un-Amazonian things that could happen in Amazonia, then, would be any further imposition of the secular, relativising and de-sacralising tendencies which have gained so much ground in the West.

In Ecuador, I found an indigenous community with a remarkable Catholic identity. The first missionaries arrived nearly 500 years ago, and it has never been easy. Until the 1980s much of the area was densely forested and accessible only on foot or horseback. Sometimes people would not see a priest for years. Nevertheless, although for a long time they refused to assimilate to the dominant colonial culture, they always gave the priest an enthusiastic welcome when he came to baptise their children and solemnise their marriages. When they were visited by a French scientific expedition at the beginning of the 20th century, it was reported that they identified themselves as Christians, to such an extent that the term Cristiano had become synonymous with their own name for themselves. Every life event was marked with religious ceremony and the expeditions ethnographer observed that they never forgot they were Catholics.

Even today, when most of the community is largely indifferent to Catholicism, they turn to the Churchs rituals whenever they or their loved ones are troubled by illness, manifestations of spirits, or the dead. On these occasions recourse is quickly made to all the therapeutic and exorcistic techniques available, including Catholic prayers, blessed candles, holy water, and baptism, all in the quest for spiritual protection.

A little background is necessary here.If you followed discussions surrounding the Amazon synod, you may be under the impression that Amazonian people live in an almost Rousseauian state of harmony with nature or they would, if only the West had not interfered. Alternatively, you may think that they are all animists and idol worshippers. Neither is a fair reflection of reality.

Their relationship with nature, harmonious in some respects, is fraught with existential struggle. In common with most of the indigenous societies of lowland South America, the tranquillity and harmony to which they aspire is actually a fragile achievement which must be constantly defended from the disruptive incursions of malevolent spirits, animals and the dead.

A great many animals in Amazonia, like the spirits of the forest and rivers, exist in a state of predatory competition with humans: they are seen as potential enemies. There is no Amazonian equivalent of St Francis. Their relationship with the dead before the arrival of Christianity was characterised by still more intense animosity and terror. The old stories they tell recount how the dead used to return from the grave to harass and kill the living, how animals used to take on human form and fatally disrupt society, how vampiric spirits would descend upon peoples houses forcing them to flee for their lives.

We may think such stories are tall tales with little historical truth, but to dismiss them would be to do a disservice to these peoples own experience of their place in the cosmos. This is what traditional Amazonian spirituality consists of: perilous encounters with animals and spirits, mortal combat with the unseen world, terror of the dead. These struggles, though nowadays less intense than they once were, continue to be a decisive feature of everyday life in indigenous communities across lowland South America to this day.

The spiritual elite at the centre of these existential struggles are the shamans who can cure and curse according to their whim, heal you, protect you or kill you, and who apply their skills in return for payment.The power they wield as a result is based as much on fear of their vengeance as upon anything else.

The difference the Church makes when it arrives in a shamanic society like this can be truly remarkable. I discovered in Ecuador that, despite all the religious indifference of the previous 50 years, the arrival of the Church was seared into the collective memory as a transformative turning point in the communitys history. It was the moment at which the spirits retreated, the distance between humans and animals increased, and the dead began to lie peacefully in the grave.

These dramatic changes in the balance of power in the cosmos were attributed to the effects of baptism. People told me that baptism conferred upon them the protection of the Spirit of God, that it drove back the spirits and warded off the animals. Those who were baptised died in peace and maintained a benign relationship with their living relatives.

All this amounted to a revolution in their relations with the cosmos and its inhabitants, opening up for them a far greater and more secure space of tranquillity than that which, according to their own oral history, they had ever previously known. For these people, the spiritual protection of baptism, which for hundreds of years they had received accompanied by the exorcisms contained in the old Latin rite, was considered to be a matter of life and death. It was a bulwark against the darkness which had hitherto pressed in upon them and against which so much of their energy had been directed.

This is the way it appears in their own collective memory. If we are to listen and give credence to such a memory we must conclude that, far from being a colonial imposition, the sacraments of the Church effected a liberation. Catholicism did not destroy their identity; rather, it made possible a flourishing previously curtailed by so many spiritual assaults.

But why couldnt they turn to their own shamans for protection? Well, they did, and they still do. There are certain similarities between shamans and Catholic priests. However, there are also crucial differences. Of vital importance in the Churchs mission in Amazonia is the fact that, unlike that of the shaman, the priests power is not dependent upon a potentially malevolent spiritual helper. Furthermore, it does not (or at least should not) come at a cost. Another difference is that the protection offered by a shaman is temporary, provisional and unreliable; it is always vulnerable to the shamans caprice, to challenge from another shaman or from a more powerful spirit. By contrast, that which is offered by the priest is far more durable, definitive and unambiguously benevolent.

At the same time, the similarities between the ceremonies performed by the priest and those of the shaman meant that indigenous people easily recognised the spiritual power offered by the Church. It is, in many ways, the same kind of power, using some of the same kinds of objects, substances, gestures and language. The shaman, being called upon to cleanse people and places from malign spiritual influence, uses a variety of spiritually powerful instruments and techniques: objects imbued with auxiliary spirits, libations of tobacco juice and ayahuasca, tobacco smoke and rum. Many shamanic ceremonies also involve a special ritual language, unintelligible to the audience.

The priest, also cleansing and protecting people and places from spirits, has at his disposal an array of exorcistic and protective objects and techniques: the relics of the saints, the smoke of incense, the holy water of asperges, holy oil and the rites of the Mass itself. In all this exorcistic, protective and therapeutic work Latin served him and his Amazonian flock as a uniquely Christian ritual language, simultaneously distinct from that of their own shamans and from the language of their dealings with the Spanish or Portuguese.

Interestingly, there is one other point of similarity between a shaman and a Catholic priest, and this involves sexual abstinence. The power of both priest and shaman is dependent upon a unique relationship with the normally unseen world of spirits, which sets them apart from ordinary life. The shaman relies on alliances with auxiliary spirits, with whom he typically enters into quasi-marital relations. These spiritual relationships at times impose upon him periods of sexual abstinence, especially during his apprenticeship. For the priest, another kind of quasi-marital relationship binds him not to any local spirit, but to God himself, and his sexual abstinence is permanent. Here there is a clear connection for both shaman and priest between sexual abstinence and spiritual power. Perhaps this might be an indigenous Amazonian argument for a celibate priesthood.

Today, there are some people wanting to give the Church a more Amazonian face. People have suggested that mandatory priestly celibacy, an all-male priesthood, and traditional Catholic rituals are a bar to evangelisation. However, the discussion on both sides has been conducted with barely a reference to any of the characteristic features of Amazonian spirituality. The communities whose spiritual welfare is being so hotly fought over are often far more traditional in their approach to gender roles, religion and ritual action (be it Catholic or shamanic) than those who are attempting to advocate on their behalf.

The truth is that the indigenous societies of lowland South America remain attuned by their own cultures and traditions to the realities of spiritual warfare to a far greater extent than is currently the case in the West. These are not people who struggle to engage with the more formal and obscure elements of traditional rituals. Neither do they find it difficult to appreciate the significance of gendered divisions of labour in either ordinary or ritual tasks. These are all features of ritual action which their own traditions take for granted.

If the changes advocated by some participants in the Amazon synod were to be implemented, they would amount, ironically, to one more kind of spiritual colonisation, in this instance by a Western ideological agenda whose end, as we are seeing in the West, is ultimately secular, materialistic and spiritually destructive. It is also entirely alien to the spiritual traditions of the peoples of Amazonia.

If His Holiness and his brother bishops are able to hear the voices of the people of this region, above the noise being made by everyone else, they might just hear them crying out, as we should all be doing, for support in the spiritual battle. Both they and we are in urgent need of every weapon with which the Church has been armed by Christ against the powers of darkness. We need, all of us in equal measure, the clear, dazzling, undiluted truth of the Catholic faith.

Daniel J Dolley has a DPhil in social anthropology from the University of Oxford

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Undiluted Catholicism: what the Amazon really needs - Catholic Herald Online

Review: ‘Babette’s Feast’ a warmhearted exploration of the spiritual and the sensual at Lamb’s Players – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The town at the mouth of a Norwegian fjord in Babettes Feast is not necessarily on anyones list of foodie destinations, unless youre a seabird jonesing for sardines.

But in the folksy, modestly entertaining new stage adaptation of Isak Dinesens short story, now getting its West Coast premiere at Lambs Players in Coronado, the place plays host to the meal of a lifetime. (Particularly for these 19th-century locals, who have spent their lifetimes dining on bread soup.)

That feast becomes the zenith of a story that explores the conflicts and commonalities between the sensual and the spiritual, as it follows the journey of a destitute French refugee whos embraced by a pair of pious Norwegian sisters.

The show takes its time, though, to work up momentum toward the big eat. That owes at least partly to the structure of the original by Dinesen the pen name for the Danish writer Karen Blixen, whos best-known for her memoir Out of Africa.

Babettes Feast which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film, as was Out of Africa leaps forward a little jarringly in big chunks of years. And the ensemble-based, story theater"-styled piece, for all its ultimately warmhearted charms, is also a little light on character exploration and heavy on narration that can feel dry and distancing at times.

But at Lambs, stirring vocal harmonies, Diana Elledges brooding and beautiful cello accompaniment and some winning performances among the 10-member cast help lift director Robert Smyths production.

The show also has an ideal Babette in Yolanda Marie Franklin, who brings to the piece a quiet reserve and sly humor that blossoms into radiance when her character, who has devoted herself to the art of cooking, begins creating her masterwork.

Most of Franklins cast mates take on multiple roles in the 90-minute, no-intermission work, which was conceived and developed by Abigail Killeen and adapted by Rose Courtney (the piece premiered in Maine before heading off-Broadway for a short stint in 2018).

At storys center at least until Babette finally arrives are sisters Philippa and Martine, played by Caitie Grady and Rachael VanWormer, respectively, in the characters younger incarnations. Their stern father (Jason Heil) founded the towns dominant religious order and has raised them to do good works.

While they attract some fervent suitors most notably the military man Loewenhielm (Ross Hellwig as the younger version, Rick Meads as the elder) and the wandering opera star Papin (Charles Evans Jr.) the sisters ultimately remain unmarried.

The ensemble of Babettes Feast at Lambs Players Theatre.

(Ken Jacques)

There are affecting scenes, though, between Grady and Evans (a real-life married pair) as they sing gorgeous duets during Papins vocal lessons. Those sequences are of a piece with Elledges inspired cello renderings of a score music-directed (and in some instances composed) by Deborah Gilmour Smyth.

Cut to decades later, when Philippa and Martine (now played by Gilmour Smyth and Kerry Meads), take Babette into their fold after she collapses on their doorstep.

And then leap ahead another dozen years, when the still-mysterious Babette who has become the sisters cook and something of a town treasure finds herself with the means to whip up an epic French repast.

The show finds its footing in those scenes, with their contrast between the amazed reactions of the now-returned Loewenhielm, who recognizes the meal as the work of a Parisian master, and the comically blas pose of the townspeople, whove made a pact not to seem affronted at what they fear will be a gluttonous ordeal.

Its a moment that weaves together gracefully the elements of the sacred and the earthly; even the lighting (by Nathan Peirson) seems to shed a divine glow on Mike Buckleys rustic set.

Loewenhielm says it best in a speech: Righteousness and bliss have kissed one another.

And if theres no real food in sight, the actors rapture still makes it feel pretty real.

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Feb. 16.

Where: Lambs Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado

Tickets: $24-$74 (discounts available)

Phone: (619) 437-6000

Online: lambsplayers.org

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Review: 'Babette's Feast' a warmhearted exploration of the spiritual and the sensual at Lamb's Players - The San Diego Union-Tribune

GRHS graduate using platform to write about spiritual themes – The Glen Rose Reporter

When Glen Rose High School graduate Lori Altebaumer finally had the time to start writing something she had wanted to do for years she took advantage of the opportunity.

Even as a child, I dreamed I could be a writer, she said. I loved the idea, but I didnt think it was possible.

She will be signing copies of A Firm Place to Stand from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. this Saturday (Jan. 25) at Grumps in Stephenville. She will also be signing copies at Storiebook Cafe in Glen Rose, starting at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Altebaumer was working with her husband, Joe, who is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Stephenville, when he told her, I want you to do something that makes you happy.

That, she thought, would be writing but not just any old topic.

As a 51-year-old Christian woman, Altebaumer chose to write about spiritual themes, not frivolous ideas.

We treated it (the writing) like a ministry, Altebaumer said. I didnt have to make it income-producing. Right now, Im very happy. I have lots of ideas. You never know what God might move you into.

A Firm Place to Stand fit the bill.

Its a story about forgiveness, how things happen. Its never black and white, Altebaumer said, noting that the book falls in the Romantic Suspense genre. We have to be willing to give forgiveness and receive.

After picking the platform for the ministry, she explained, God will determine the reach. I just want the joy of expressing my thoughts through words in a way that touches someone else.

About a year and a half ago, Altebaumer also decided to become active in the already-established Call to Change Ministry, speaking to female prison inmates in Texas.

Altebaumer grew up in Glen Rose, and graduated from high school there in 1986. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M in 1990.

She and her husband previously lived in Houston and Waco, but now live in Erath County between Lingleville and Desdemona. They have two children 21-year-old twins Jeff Altebaumer and Emily Dehn both of whom are married.

Altebaumer and her daughter co-wrote a book titled, Walking in the Reign, which also is available now online and in an e-book format. Both books were self-published. She said she is working on her second book, to be titled, A Far Way to Run, but isnt 100 percent certain when it will be finished.

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GRHS graduate using platform to write about spiritual themes - The Glen Rose Reporter

Abortion is socially sanctioned, sovereignly offensive and spiritually sinful | Guestview – Pensacola News Journal

James C. Johnson, Guest columnist Published 7:00 a.m. CT Jan. 19, 2020

January represents the sad anniversary of the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. In 1984 President Ronald Reagan made a proclamation regarding the observation of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday which is to be observed on the closest Sunday to the original Jan. 22 date of Roe v Wade.

With that Sunday coming up, I want to remind readers that Abortion in America is still socially sanctioned, sovereignly offensive, and spiritually sinful.

James C. Johnson(Photo: Submitted)

Did you know there's one abortion every 27 seconds in America?That's 1.2 million babies annually. And because of Roe v Wade, all of this abortion is socially sanctioned.

The abortion advocates rationale is to explain that what is growing in a females womb is just a collection of cells, a biological sequence or just human tissue.

Yet, According toMayoClinic.org, just three weeks after conception the baby's brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form. In six weeks, arms and legs are growing longer, and fingers have begun to form. At 10 weeks, fingernails are growing and a baby's face has a profile.

In spite of these facts, it is socially sanctioned to insert a tool or take a pill and end a babys life.

Secondly, the Bible explains that abortion is sovereignly offensive. Abortion is an offense and an affront to the Supreme Ruler, the sovereign Creator God. Psalm 139:13-17 records for us that human beings are fearfully and wonderfullymade. Genesis1:25-27 explains that God makes man in His image.

Understanding that we are created in the image of God, to abort an innocent life is sin not just because its an offense to that specific human life, but also because its an offense to the image of God. There is a personhood and an eternal soul that exists in humans. The Sovereign God is offended by any society that socially sanctions aborting a human life.

Latest news: Florida Senate moves closer to approving new abortion restriction

Abortion ban bill: Rep. Mike Hill files fetal heartbeat abortion ban bill that removes all medical exceptions

Finally, abortion is spiritually sinful, every time. Some people take a situational ethics approach to abortion. They believe abortion isnt sinful if a baby in the womb has Down Syndrome. According to research reviewed by Dr. Brian Skotko, 92% of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies.

In John 9 there is an explanation of a man who was born blind. Jesus disciples asked Him, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. The point that Jesus made is we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter our disabilities.

Some take a situational ethics approach to babies conceived by rape and believe in that situation, it is not sinful to abort a baby.

If you believe that, let me ask you, Is that which is conceived through rape a child or not?

Would you murder a child outside of a womb because they were conceived by rape? - of course not!Then why murder a child inside the womb because they were conceived by rape.

How should we treat a child who reminds us of a terrible experience? With murder or mercy?What if the rapist was caught?Would we allow the woman to murder him in order to have emotional relief?No! Then why allow her to murder her child instead.

The majority of the 1.2 million babies aborted annually in America were not aborted because of an extreme situation, but because of the inconvenience of parenthood. In any situation, putting a baby up for adoption is always a better choice than abortion.

Abortion is socially sanctioned, sovereignly offensive and spiritually sinful. Yet, the powerful gospel is the loving answer for the sinful problem of abortion. Scripture is uncompromisingly against the sin of abortion, but thankfully it is compassionate towards sinners. Anyone who turns from sin and to Christ can receive much-needed forgiveness.

James C. Johnsonis the pastor of NorthStone Baptist Churchin Pensacola. You offer him your feedback at northstonepastor@gmail.com.


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Abortion is socially sanctioned, sovereignly offensive and spiritually sinful | Guestview - Pensacola News Journal

Material achievements and spiritual perfections – Centurion Rekord

We just started a new year with new hopes, new aspirations and dreams for peace and prosperity. The realisation of our hopes and dreams in 2020, will depend on reinforcing our material achievements with spiritual perfections.

It is the Bah view that, prosperity, in its fullest sense, can only be achieved through a combination of spiritual and material well-being. It can be attained when material and spiritual civilisation advance together.

Our contemporary world, however, is often ruled by materialistic values and standards. The lack of attention to spiritual reformation, and the neglect of character development, has been the cause of numerous problems in our societies all over the world. This is not to say material means are not important. However, it is not in the nature of the humans to be a material being alone, just as it is not in the nature of humans to want to live in poverty, thinking only of the spiritual worlds.

We can compare the body to a vehicle which is being used by the soul for its journey through its earthly life. As such, it is important to cater for the needs of both the body (the vehicle) and the soul (the driver). However, it is important to allow our spiritual nature to take control, in the same way as the driver should be in control of a vehicle, and not vice versa.

In the Bah view, we need a new set of spiritual and moral standards that lead to the unification of humanity. It has to take into account that our well-being, peace and security will depend on our unity as humanity. As Bahullh, the founder of the Bah Faith says: The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.

Our spiritual dimension can be understood, in practical terms, as the source of qualities that help us rise above narrow self-interest. Through acquisition of spiritual virtues, not only the individual, but also societies can be transformed. The universal spiritual principles which lie at the heart of religion tolerance, compassion, love, justice, humility, sacrifice, trustworthiness, dedication to the well-being of others, and unity are the foundations of progressive civilisation.

The Bah Writings assert: we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of lifes ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful.

[emailprotected]; or call 083-794-0819

Websites: http://www.bahai.org, http://www.bahai.org.za.

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Material achievements and spiritual perfections - Centurion Rekord

Pastor’s ‘spiritual DNA’ will live on – Impartial Reporter

Tributes have been paid to Pastor Donald Cameron Crawford with Pastor Nigel Elliott explaining that his authentic love for God made it very easy for him to love people.

Cameron, as he was known, died last week at South West Acute Hospital after a battle with cancer. He was Pastor at Elim Pentecostal Church in Enniskillen from 2006 to 2012, where his spiritual DNA will live on according to Pastor Elliott, who took over the role as Pastor at the church.

To me he was an amazing man. Not just an amazing man of faith but an amazing man all round. He was someone who you could depend upon and was consistent and committed. He was a brilliant friend as well as a brilliant Pastor, Pastor Elliott said.

Cameron was married to Betty and father to Paul and had four grandchildren, Jessica, Jacob, Jamie and Jenna. He was diagnosed with Cancer over two year ago but as Pastor Elliott explained Cameron used his time on earth after his diagnosis to make memories.

He loved spending time with his family, with his wife and his son and his four grandchildren and he was invested in their lives. When you spoke to him, he was always relaying stories about what the grandchildren were doing and how they were getting on, Pastor Elliott said, adding: He lived life to the full, even after he received his diagnosis. He never let that hinder him. His faith played an enormous part in his life. It grounded him and kept him going during his illness and despite the illness he remained very active in the church community. He wanted to make memories and he knew that his faith would carry him through his illness, and it did.

Cameron ministered in Scotland, Belfast and County Monaghan before moving to Fermanagh in 2006 and he was someone who was invested in cross community work and making a difference to peoples lives.

He was generous with his time and with his advice and in the small things that mean so much to people. He epitomised what being a Christian in, especially in how he lived. He was a hero of the faith. He loved being a father and a husband and a grandfather and he loved being a Pastor. And he did so much work in the town, he worked across all cultures and denominations and supporting people who are in need. he is a huge loss to the church and to his friends, but also to the town of Enniskillen and the county of Fermanagh, Pastor Elliott explained who also spoke about Camerons death being the start of a new chapter:

As a church we dont believe it was the end for Cameron, we believe it is the start of something and so did he. But he has left us a legacy that we will follow through. A lot of the things that we are doing in the church now has Camerons fingerprints on them and his spiritual DNA is in our church and in our community. We will miss him, but we will honour Cameron.

A service of celebration for the life of Pastor Crawford took place at Elim Pentecostal Church Enniskillen on Saturday with funeral arrangements carried out by Marcus Madill of S.R Elliott and Sons.


Pastor's 'spiritual DNA' will live on - Impartial Reporter

The theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence – Sumter Item

By PAUL HARVEYUniversity of Colorado Colorado Springs

For blacks who grew up with the legacy of segregation, disfranchisement, lynching, and violence, retreat from social struggle was unthinkable. Martin Luther King Jr., however, learned from some important mentors how to integrate spiritual growth and social transformation.

As a historian, who has studied how figures in American history struggled with similar questions, I believe one major influence on King's thought was the black minister, theologian, and mystic Howard Thurman.

The influence of Howard Thurman

Born in 1899, Thurman was 30 years older than King, the same age, in fact, as King's father. Through his sermons and teaching at Howard University and Boston University, he intellectually and spiritually influenced an entire generation that became the leadership of the civil rights movement.

Among his most significant contributions was bringing the ideas of nonviolence to the movement. It was Thurman's trip to India in 1935, where he met Mahatma Gandhi, that was greatly influential in incorporating the principles of nonviolence in the black freedom struggle.

At the close of the meeting, which was long highlighted by Thurman as a central event of his life, Gandhi reportedly told Thurman that "it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world." King and others remembered and repeated that phrase during the early years of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

Thurman and King were both steeped in the black Baptist tradition. Both thought long about how to apply their church experiences and theological training into challenging the white supremacist ideology of segregation. However, initially their encounters were brief.

Thurman had served as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 1953 to 1965. King was a student there when Thurman first assumed his position in Boston and heard the renowned minister deliver some addresses. A few years later, King invited Thurman to speak at his first pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Their most serious personal encounter - the one that gave Thurman his opportunity to influence King personally, and help prepare him for struggles to come - came as a result of a tragedy.

A crucial meeting in the hospital

On Sept. 20, 1958, a mentally disturbed black woman named Izola Ware Curry came to a book signing in upper Manhattan. There, King was signing copies of his new book, "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story." Curry moved to the front of the signing line, took out a sharp-edged letter opener and stabbed the 29-year-old minister, who had just vaulted to national prominence through his leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott.

King barely survived. Doctors later told King that, if he had sneezed, he easily could have died. Of course, King later received a fatal gunshot wound in April 1968. Curry lived her days in a mental institution, to the age of 97.

It was while recuperating in the hospital afterward that King received a visit from Thurman. While there, Thurman gave the same advice he gave to countless others over decades: that King should take the unexpected, if tragic, opportunity, to meditate on his life and its purposes and only then move forward.

Thurman urged King to extend his rest period by two weeks. It would, as he said, give King "time away from the immediate pressure of the movement" and to "rest his body and mind with healing detachment." Thurman worried that "the movement had become more than an organization; it had become an organism with a life of its own," which potentially could swallow up King.

King wrote to Thurman to say, "I am following your advice on the question."

King's spiritual connection with Thurman

King and Thurman were never personally close. But Thurman left a profound intellectual and spiritual influence on King. King, for example, reportedly carried his own well-thumbed copy of Thurman's best-known book, "Jesus and the Disinherited," in his pocket during the long and epic struggle of the Montgomery bus boycott.

In his sermons during the 1950s and 1960s, King quoted and paraphrased Thurman extensively. Drawing from Thurman's views, King understood Jesus as friend and ally of the dispossessed - to a group of Jewish followers in ancient Palestine, and to blacks under slavery and segregation. That was precisely why Jesus was so central to black religious history.

The mystic

Thurman was not an activist, as King was, nor one to take up specific social and political causes to transform a country. He was a private man and an intellectual. He saw spiritual cultivation as a necessary accompaniment to social activism.

As Walter Fluker, editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project, has explained, the private mystic and the public activist found common ground in understanding that spirituality is necessarily linked to social transformation. Private spiritual cultivation could prepare the way for deeper public commitments for social change. King himself, according to one biographer, came to feel that the stabbing and enforced convalescence was "part of God's plan to prepare him for some larger work" in the struggle against southern segregation and American white supremacy.

In a larger sense, the discipline of nonviolence required a spiritual commitment and discipline that came, for many, through self-examination, meditation and prayer. This was the message Thurman transmitted to the larger civil rights movement. Thurman combined, in the words of historian Martin Marty, the "inner life, the life of passion, the life of fire, with the external life, the life of politics."

Spiritual retreat and activism

King's stabbing was a bizarre and tragic event, but in some sense it gave him the period of reflection and inner cultivation needed for the chaotic coming days of the civil rights struggle. The prison cell in Birmingham, Alabama, where in mid-1963 King penned his classic "Letter from Birmingham Jail," also accidentally but critically provided much the same spiritual retreat for reflections that helped transform America.

The relationship of Thurman's mysticism and King's activism provides a fascinating model for how spiritual and social transformation can work together in a person's life. And in society more generally.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Jan. 11, 2018. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/meet-the-theologian-who-helped-mlk-see-the-value-of-nonviolence-89938.

The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. The Conversation is wholly responsible for the content.

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The theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence - Sumter Item

Why "Business Meets Spirituality" Is an Important Leadership Trend For 2020 – Thrive Global

During the last decade, innovation-oriented companies realized that innovation didnt just come from having really smart, high I.Q. people in leadership roles. Rather it came from leaders who have better soft skills. From M.B.A. schools to corporate trainings, development programs focused on improving the socioemotional skills of leaders, and assessments around emotional intelligence, E.Q., flourished. And so we have moved into an era of leaders that understand their emotions better, relate to their team members better, and understand the aspirations and needs of their customer better. They are more thoughtful in day-to-day human interactions, and are less emotionally reactive to challenging situations.

The next frontier of leadership development is spiritual intelligence, or S.Q. As we see mindfulness practices become prevalent in the workplace, we are starting to see many teachings from the spiritual traditions show up in the office. For many years, we heard sports analogies and military analogies in business e.g. blocking and tackling, ball is in their court, campaigns, battle scars etc. Now entering the lexicon are words like resilience, zen, unplugging, rising above, letting go, and of course, mindful!

Many of the traits we admire in advanced spiritual people, we now want to emulate in business. Having more presence and awareness, having a clear sense of personal mission, having calm through the storm, having focus without losing sight of the big picture, are all recognized as signs of a good leader and these traits are specifically cultivated through spiritual practices.

Leaders can build or improve S.Q. through multiple practices that improve self-awareness and connection. It starts with a shift in mindset realizing that we not just a bundle of muscles, bones, thoughts and emotions. It is obvious we have a body, and somewhat obvious that we have a mind, though we dont quite know where it resides. That mind also generates thoughts and emotions, and the emotions are what E.Q. practices target. The next layer of our existence is the deeper part of our being, that spiritual traditions refer to as the soul or the spirit or consciousness.

From a leadership point of view, we might call this our greater potential, our creativity, our source of inspiration, or our reservoir of innovation. Whatever we want to call the layer of us that is beyond body and mind, is irrelevant. What is relevant however is connecting to that layer of our being on a regular basis. Depending on what is comfortable, that might be as simple as indulging in creative pursuits such as art or dance, or through being in nature or participating in inspiring activities on a regular basis. Essentially any healthy regular practice, including religious practice, that helps you transcend emotions and mind can help improve spiritual intelligence.

Other practices to improve S.Q. can include regular journaling to unpack traumatic experiences, and take a pseudo-third-party analysis of a situation. This can often reveal deep insights about oneself. Even though you might have experienced a difficult challenge, as you write about it, you take a witnessing view, which can help you step out of mind-body-emotion constraints.

A more formalized approach might be many of the mindfulness practices in vogue. Many of these techniques originate from spiritual practices such as meditation, whose techniques are directly targeted to accessing that third layer of our being. Hence meditation is proven to improve creativity, focus, resilience, and health, since we are essentially bringing three layers of our being into our existence, i.e. body, mind, and spirit.

A yoga practice is also a powerful tool to improve ones spiritual connection. Its original intended purpose was to unite the three layers of our existence (yoga itself means union, in reference to union of body, mind, and spirit). The yoga system includes numerous practices, from meditation, breathing techniques, chanting techniques, physical postures, the study of spiritual books, serving others, worship, self-reflection, practicing compassion, and expressing gratitude, all designed to move us to increased S.Q. Many of these techniques have been divorced into individual practices in the Western world, e.g. only focusing on physical yoga postures at the gym, or only focusing on breath in a breathwork class, without the broader integrated practice that they are attached to. When yoga is done in a systematized and integrated way with its multitude of practices beyond the mat, it has a multiplicative effect on improving spiritual intelligence.

As we begin this new decade, evaluate your own spiritual outlook and practices. It is often said that we are all spiritual beings, having a human experience. Often we are so caught up in that human experience, we forget our greater nature. As we connect to that third layer of our existence, through whatever practices resonate with us, we will find our business and leadership life orient towards more fulfillment, inspiration and naturally more success.

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Why "Business Meets Spirituality" Is an Important Leadership Trend For 2020 - Thrive Global